When I went to college and majored in this field, my parents and friends always asked me what that job field entailed. I remember having to tell them that it's like being in the shoes of a journalist (because I was initially going to major in that), but in a different light, you are the voice of a brand that wants to persuade your target audience in a way that's beneficial to the brand's reputation.
I thought I write a post on what a public relations professional can really do. Because quite honestly, if you work in this field you can do a variety of things.
According to the Public Relation's Society of America, public relations is defined as
"a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics."
So then, I would massage through the definition and say "well, do you know what a publicist is?". I remember telling my parents that and they're response would be like "oh you want to be that?" Well see, that's a pet peeve of mine because there's more to PR than just publicity and everyone has this misconception of relating PR to being an event planner/promoter with all this glitz and glam (which is a double no, no) in that nature. I wanted to be a public relations professional that did everything. I love writing, strategizing, planning and being creative....if you still don't know what I am trying to say—well I am about to tell you.
Here are different niches you can be a PR specialist in including a "publicist":
Community Relations + Nonprofits: I combined these two as they go hand in hand with each other. Many nonprofits typically are fueled to raise awareness on a cause and are deeply rooted at a grassroots level with the community. For example, the Red Cross, United Way or Boys and Girls Club of America all have local chapters within the umbrella of the national brand that work to develop and implement programs at a community level. You can create awareness, host neighborhood events, launch county-wide campaigns, etc.
Sample jobs include: Public Relations Specialist/Communications Specialist at XYZ nonprofit, Community Relations Specialist, Director of External Relations
Public Affairs: I like to describe this as government relations that involves PR professionals in government agencies, lobbyists, think tanks, unions and trade associations. In the government, it's essential to use public relations to communicate messages to citizens and people on Capitol Hill through different vehicles like newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, social media, etc.
Sample jobs include: Public Affairs Specialist, Public Information Officer, Press Secretary, Director of Public Affairs
Media Relations: This is field the so called "publicists" are in and where the tagline "I need a PR" comes from. Public relations professionals in this specialized field work directly with the media from newspapers to magazines to radio and TV stations. If your organization is about to launch a new product or initiative, there is usually a press release written on behalf and in addition with a press conference that invites journalists to write and interview individuals for (to some extent). Want to be spotlighted? Ask a publicist to help get you media coverage. Media relations professionals also help with image building and helps CEOs or top executives of a company how to talk to the media or a journalist.
Sample jobs include: Publicists, Media Relations Manager, Public Relations coordinator, Director of PR
Reputation Management: Crisis PR is implemented to protect and defend an individual, company, or organization facing a problem to its reputation. If you're organization or brand is going through a crisis, then you'll need a contingency plan to fix it and earn your brands trust and credibility back.
Sample jobs include: Crisis management specialist, Crisis Manager, Reputation Management Engagement Specialist
Digital Marketing: This is where all things social media and digital strategy fall in. In combination with integrated marketing, public relations professionals in this field utilize all vehicles of communication with social media, public relations, advertising, brand management and design together to form a campaign.
Sample jobs include: Digital Communications Specialist, Director of Communications and Marketing, Social Engagement Manager, Marketing Specialist, Brand Strategy Specialist